Canada and the United States must stand together in the face of an “increasingly assertive” China, says Trudeau
Seated in the front row of the public gallery overlooking the bedroom. Their presence, during Biden’s first official visit to Canada as president, was a clear signal of the two countries’ changing stance on China.
Biden made no explicit reference to China during his speech, but he singled out the two men. “Our fellow citizens are not currencies of exchange. These are not diplomatic levers. They are human beings with lives and families that should be respected,” the president said, adding that he had met the two men earlier in the day.
Kovrig and Spavor, known as “two Michaels”, were arrested in December 2018, days after Canada arrested Meng following an extradition request from the United States. They were imprisoned in China for 1,019 days, and their release following a US decision to drop the extradition order was widely seen as a prisoner swap.
The episode marked a turning point in relations between the two allied countries and China. Reports say Biden was instrumental in securing the release of both Michaels during negotiations to drop the case against Meng. Their fate was the first issue Trudeau raised with the president when they first met bilaterally in 2021.
“Canada brought both Michaels home, and we did it the right way,” Trudeau said. “We have not abandoned our values. We have redoubled our efforts and rallied our allies against arbitrary detention.
Kovrig and Spavor received several standing ovations before and during the two leaders’ remarks. POLITICO has confirmed he will attend a gala dinner with Biden and Trudeau later that evening.
A joint statement released after Biden’s speech said Canada and the United States “recognize the serious long-term challenge to the international order posed by the People’s Republic of China, including disruptive actions such as economic coercion. , non-market policies and practices and human rights”. abuses.”
Since the release of the two Michaels, Canada has banned tech giant Huawei from the country’s 5G network, following in the footsteps of other Five Eyes countries, including the United States. The country’s new Indo-Pacific strategy, released last fall, describes China as “an increasingly disruptive global power”.
Over the past few months, Canada’s Liberal government has been embroiled in a new controversy involving allegations of Chinese foreign interference in the country’s last two federal elections. Reports citing national security sources claimed that Beijing was seeking to secure re-election for liberals in 2021 and was working to defeat some conservative politicians deemed hostile to China.
This week, a Toronto-area MP resigned from the Liberal caucus after the publication of a new article, citing two unnamed sources, that he advised a Chinese diplomat to delay the release of Kovrig and Spavor. He denied the allegations.
The joint statement said the two countries “will continue to cooperate to fight against foreign interference”.